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Florida authorities taking custody of ‘American Idol’ star’s babies draws outrage

Critics are calling it state-sanctioned child abduction

American Idol finalist Syesha Mercado is living any mother’s worse nightmare after having her two babies taken by authorities in Manatee County, Florida. 

Critics are calling it state-sanctioned child abduction.

Mercado’s heartbreak first began when her 15-month-old son, Amen’Ra, was placed into foster care following a hospital visit, as reported by BuzzFeed. Mercado and her partner, Tyron Deener, took their baby boy to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg on Feb. 26 for a routine check-up after the couple became concerned about malnutrition. Mercado’s breast milk started to run dry when she became pregnant with her newborn daughter and Amen’Ra stopped accepting fluids, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported.

(Credit: Instagram)

Officials accused the couple of child abuse and put Amen’Ra in foster care. According to reports, medical staff claim Mercado and Deener turned down a recommended B-12 intramuscular shot, which the parents vehemently deny. 

The baby boy was reportedly under hospital care for two weeks, with Mercado claiming she was never notified that her son was discharged and placed with child welfare officials. Mercado claims officials failed to reach out to any of her family members for possible placement of the child.

Sally Smith, the pediatrician at the hospital who examined Amen’Ra, has been investigated in the past for being quick to accuse parents of abusing their children, per the report.

Mercado gave birth to a baby girl amid her legal battle for custody of her son, and now her daughter has been taken by authorities as well.  

Mercado and Deener were driving with their newborn daughter on Wednesday when authorities stopped them and insisted on conducting a roadside welfare check. The couple nor their attorney were given a warning about the safety check on the baby, which ultimately led the police to take the child away.

Deener posted a clip on Instagram Live of the roughly hour-long encounter with law enforcement.

The move has sparked outrage on social media. One Twitter user wrote, “Our government has a long history of kidnapping the kids of minorities & the poor. It’s devastating for the parents and causes serious issues in the children.”

Another added, “There is such a lack of support for new moms especially breastfeeding moms. Drs are quick to say malnourished instead of helping the mom get a lactation consultant.”

A third wrote, “The screams of Syesha Mercado as the state kidnapped another one of her children will be hard to get out of my head. The trauma and agony CPS is putting their family through is devastating.”

“CPS conspires with police, is backed by police & acts like police—it IS the police. U.S. family policing was designed from the beginning to surveil, terrorize & destroy Black families. We must abolish it & build caring & safe communities. This is why I wrote Torn Apart,” wrote author Dorothy Roberts.

“We’re currently detained by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Department,” Deener says, noting that law enforcement had been laying low in an “unmarked” vehicle outside their home, and stalked the family. “We’re surrounded. … They’re warning us to turn over our newborn,” she continued. 

“Whatever you do, they’re just gonna do what they want,” Mercado says.

In the video, deputies claim the couple didn’t notify authorities about the birth of her second child. 

Mercado and Deener beg officials to let them take their baby to the hospital. They also note that the newborn recently had a medical checkup and the doctor deemed the child to be healthy. But the officials claimed that was “unsafe” and insisted on taking the baby to the hospital themselves to conduct their review.

Mercado breaks down in tears as caseworkers take her child.

“You have no heart. My baby is days old,” Mercado screams. “My baby is healthy. My baby is happy.”

Both Mercado’s children have been taken within the past six months.

After a court hearing Thursday morning, the parents were still not allowed to take their newborn home, and both children remain in protective custody.

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